Even a Perfect Seed Needs TLC. And Good Soil!


Dad can grow anything. He has the green thumb in our family.

Last year, when he realized he was going to be in the hospital for such a long time, one of his biggest worries was “who’s going to take care of my plants?”

They survived, thanks to the joint efforts of Mom, sister Stephanie, daughter Martha, and even a small assist from me.

Dad recently got home from the hospital after another of what seem like regular monthly visits since his discharge a year ago May.

It was Fat Tuesday. Easy to remember. Mom was scheduled for an outpatient procedure that morning. Dad was going to go, but just home from the hospital hours before, we thought the best place for him would be at home. My sister, Karen, was picking Mom up for the procedure. Kathy had the day off and I rearranged my schedule so we could spend the time with Dad.

He agreed, albeit reluctantly, to stay home.

Kathy and I got to the house after Mom and Karen had left for Lutheran General. Dad was already hard at work, carrying each of his orchids from their perch in the sun near the southwest windows over to the sink for their weekly drenching.

His orchids are beautiful. Without a doubt, he has the green thumb.

One of Dad's orchids.

One of Dad’s orchids.

I, on the other hand, tell everyone that I have crispy brown thumbs. I didn’t inherit Dad’s touch with plants. But he was able to coach me up — from the confines of his hospital bed — just enough to keep his precious babies alive.

TLC is part of it. Good soil is also essential.

In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter (John 15:1-8), Jesus continues teaching the disciples that he is the true vine and God is the vine grower.

In Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI (copyright 2007, Ignatius Press), Pope Benedict uses the analogy of Mary as the willing soil, accepting the seed of God, the seed that becomes Jesus.

What a perfect analogy of the importance of Mary in the life of every believer!

Even a perfect seed needs the right soil.

Jesus taught us about seed that falls on different types of ground, too. Remember? So this analogy makes perfect sense, right?

The Word became flesh.

Pope Benedict explains that seed “assimilates the earth’s energies and changes them into itself.”

“Mary, the holy soil of the Church, is an essential part of Christ. The mystery of Mary means precisely that God’s Word did not remain alone. Rather, it became Man in the soil of His mother, and then fused with the soil of the whole of humanity returned to God in a new form…

“To be soil for the Word means that the soil must allow itself to be absorbed by the seed.

Mary’s maternity means that she willing places her own substance, body and soul, into the seed so that new life can grow.”

Without Mary, God’s Word remains apart from Man. Or maybe Man cannot assimilate to God’s Word.

Mary’s willingness to allow God’s Word, God’s seed, to meld with her flesh is essential to Jesus becoming Man. Her humble submission is an essential, vital part of our salvation.

Did you ever stop to think where Jesus got His hair color, His eyes, His voice, His stature? From the soil of His mother.

And where and how did the helpless baby Jesus learn human love and respect? From the TLC of His mother and stepfather.

If Jesus was truly human, His humanness is as essential as His divinity. His Earthly parents are truly part of Him. And Mary is truly present in His physical presence.


Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.



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